Good news for those of you who live in Hawaii and are under the weather; a doctor's consultation is no further away than your phone or computer. The state has launched a new program which offers a 10-minute phone or online consultation for as little as $10 for those covered by the state's predominant insurance carrier, HSMA. Those without coverage will pay $45.
The program is designed to take some of the burden off hospitals which routinely are called upon to treat patients who use the emergency room as a family physician for simple, easily treated maladies. Patients can now reach a doc 24/7 by phone, and, if they have a webcam, can even have a face-to-face consultation. The service will be used to treat easily diagnosed problems, for follow-up consultations, and to provide guidance about how to follow up maladies that require hands-on examinations and care.
I'm all in favor of such a service; many times, a quick answer to a simple question is all I need. For example, I once bit my tongue in my sleep, and the bleeding continued for quite some time. A late-night visit to the emergency room ($$$$) only served to inform me that this is normal, and no, they didn't stitch such wounds. If I'd had this service, I could have saved myself a bunch of time and money.
According to Ina Fried of CNET News, island physicians welcome the work. They are paid $25 per 10-minute phone consultation, which they can integrate into their normal schedule to fill otherwise open slots.
If this is successful, look for other vendors to offer even cheaper deals by routing calls to physicians overseas.
Also read: Physician house calls return